So, your new graduates and Millennial employees have arrived, and they’re bursting with energy and ideas. How can you keep that enthusiasm going – and keep them in your organisation?

You can start by forgetting the myths about Millennials. New analysis of our employee engagement data shows that members of the generation, often maligned as being difficult to please, are actually one of employers’ most enthusiastic group of supporters. Compared to previous generations, Millennials are more positive about how their companies are responding to shifts in the business environment, advancement opportunities provided by employers and are more likely to recommend their organisations to others as good places to work. This is perhaps due to the critical role teams are playing in our ever-changing environment. Facing the imminent threat of being uberised from disruptors, more and more organisations are increasingly organising their staff into teams (e.g. cross-functional, virtual or remote) to remain agile, flexible and responsive. Therefore, leaders are now very keen to foster better communication, climate and collaboration among their employees.


Another piece of Korn Ferry research shows that Millennials are no more demanding, and no less loyal, than previous generations. In fact, they’re motivated by similar things as the rest of us, such as confidence in leaders and opportunities to grow and develop.

The difference is that they’ve grown up in a world where technology, connectivity and mass information are the norm, but jobs and a strong economy are not. Add big student debts and the ever-increasing cost of living to this and you start to see why pay, career opportunities and development matter to Millennials.

They should matter to you, too. If you don’t develop, motivate and engage your Millennials, you may lose some of them to the competition – along with the money you spent on recruiting them. And with Millennials making up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, they are a true force. They are a highly educated and a technically savvy generation – if you fail to develop them into the next generation of leaders you’ll lose your pipeline.

These tips will help you to develop and keep your young talent.

#1 – Find out what makes your Millennials tick

People are motivated by a wide range of different things, from authority and money to recognition and being professional, so, the more you know about what does and doesn’t motivate each person, the better your chances of finding the best ways to engage them, and keep them.

In parallel with engagement strategies that highlight macro trends across the organisation, it could be wise to dig deeper, too. While engagement surveys are a valuable guide to the big picture and help you plot changes over time, other approaches, such as getting managers to give them one-to-one time, give you extra insight right down to the individual level.

#2 – Offer challenges and the right type of training

The Korn Ferry analysis showed people of this generation are anxious to test their capabilities and be rewarded for their efforts. Compared to the overall workforce, they are less likely to say that their current jobs make good use of their skills and abilities and that they are paid fairly for the work they do.

Some may think that restless Millennials are leading the job-hopping trend, and to a certain extent that is true. The research shows that this group is less likely to express intentions to remain with their current employers for more than five years – 48 percent favourable, compared to 60 percent of the overall workforce.

It’s important to offer challenges and stretch assignments to Millennials to ensure they are prepared to contribute to the company’s future success. Consider using mentors in the organisation for people to help and support each other in real time, using internal social media platforms.

Higher pay elsewhere can be a head-turner for Millennials but higher pay is precisely what a lot of companies can’t offer easily these days. The good news is that Millennials value experiences that will equip them for bigger things. So, emphasize the importance of moving around the business as a way to deepen skills and competence. Horizontal moves can be as good for a career as vertical ones.

A competitor’s offer might also look attractive if the learning you provide early on looks too book-bound and academic. So, don’t turn early talent off with learning that feels like a chore that’s remote from the action. We know they’re motivated by learning and personal development, but it still needs to be the right kind.

Your new recruits have more than a decade of classroom learning under their belts. They think it’s behind them. So, the prospect of more will disappoint them, to say the least. Businesses are increasingly moving towards a balance of 70% on-the-job learning, 20% ‘social’ (from colleagues or peers) and 10% classroom.

#3 – Match Millennials’ high ethical standards

In terms of values, Millennials are more favourable about their companies treating people with respect – 82 percent favourable, compared to 79 percent of the overall workforce- and valuing and promoting diversity – 80 percent favourable, compared to 77 percent of the overall workforce. Though they may be seen to evaluate companies against higher standards, they are on par with overall averages in terms of their companies’ social responsibility (80 percent favourable) and ethics in operations (83 percent favourable).

Millennials want their employers to give more than lip service to being socially conscious and ethical — they want proof that the company puts a strong emphasis on doing the right thing. However, they are pragmatic and also want to work for companies that are leaders in their field. Companies that do well financially and are good corporate citizens are employers of choice.

As you can see, there’s no alchemy in developing, engaging and keeping Millennials. The key is to treat them – and all your employees – as individuals and address their needs. The pay-off will be people who perform at their best, a strong employer brand and a successful organisation – now and in the future.

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About Contributor

Pacha Krishnan is a Senior Client Partner for Korn Ferry Advisory Malaysia. He has over 20 years of experience and specialises in human capital transformation and strategic talent management which include remuneration management, performance management, harmonisation of terms and conditions and of service, Board governance and effectiveness; and expatriate remuneration management. Pacha holds a Master in Business Administration (MBA) majoring in Human Resource Management from University of Southern Queensland, Australia.